Alumni donations decline

By Patricia J. Sheehan
March 30, 2006

Shane Evans

Donations and contributions are a very important aspect for every college or university. Private schools like Cabrini rely on these donations in order to prosper as an institution. This year, Cabrini is trying to make up for the sharp drop in donations last year.

In the 2004-2005 academic year, Cabrini received $1,891,027 in contributions from trustees, alumni, parents, faculty, religious organizations and corporations. This is a decrease from the years prior. Cabrini was given $2,153,831 in contributions in the 2003-2004 academic year.

Gifts from individuals represented only 25 percent of the annual funds that Cabrini has raised. This is well below the national average, where individual gifts make up 75 percent of the total amount of contributions in the United States, according to Jean Jacobson, the director for corporation foundation and government relations at Cabrini.

Gifts are needed to increase endowment, which colleges use to fund scholarships and long term projects. “Increasing the level of endowment is also an important way to provide income for scholarships and for growing and sustaining academic programs. Cabrini’s endowment is lower than comparable institutions of higher education. As a general rule of thumb, a college would like to raise an endowment that’s twice the size of its annual operating budget,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson also said that Cabrini has a hard time receiving large contributions from alumni because class sizes did not start to grow until the late ’90s. As a young college with a small alumni base, some of the older alums are finally at a point in their lives where they can afford to give larger gifts to Cabrini.

“Contributions to Cabrini, excluding government grants, did decrease in 2005 from the previous year; this is primarily due to the timing of larger pledges to the ‘10,000 Hearts Comprehensive Campaign,’ which includes pledges to the Center for Science Education and Technology, endowment and gifts to annual operations. Since it is a comprehensive campaign, gifts to one area versus another really do not impact the overall goal of $16.5 million. The timing of payouts for large pledges to the campaign, however, do create fluctuations in giving, and this is what we have seen this year with the completion of some larger gifts that were made to SET as part of the campaign,” Jacobson said.

Allison Gidich, a sophomore exercise science major, said that she won’t donate to Cabrini right after she graduates, but maybe in the future.

“After I pay off my loans maybe, but I’m going to be working a mediocre job. It’s already going to take me five to 10 years to pay off my loans,” Gidich said.

Nicole Meyers, a sophomore pre-nursing major, said that she would donate to the science department at Cabrini in the future because she feels it has made the biggest impact on her college career.

“I would only donate to the science department if it helped kids get a better science education because most of my time spent here has been learning about biology and other sciences. I’d rather donate to a needy school where some kids cannot afford to pay for college,” Meyers said.

Jacobson said that contributions are extremely important to Cabrini, but over the past few years, while the amount of money given by alumni has increased, the number of alums donating has decreased, which is a growing trend in higher education. Cabrini uses these contributions to set up grants and financial aid for students. Twenty-seven percent of Cabrini’s annual intake goes to scholarships and financial aid. The next biggest chunk, 25 percent, is used to fund academic programs.

“Cabrini spends approximately $10 million annually on institutional financial aid, which represents over one-fifth of the annual operating budget. Approximately 27 cents of each annual fund dollar contributed helps support grants and scholarships for Cabrini students,” Jacobson said. Tuition alone only covers 67 percent of the cost associated with student’s education at Cabrini.

When asked what a solution for the decrease in contributed funds should be, Cabrini students had mixed feelings.

“I think Cabrini gets enough money, but I don’t know how a private institution works. With our year and the recent freshman class, there should be a ton of money coming in,” Gidich said.

“They should get students involved because so much money is given out in scholarships and academic grants. It would be good to see students working hard for the money that they were given,” Meyers said.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: . The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Patricia J. Sheehan

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